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Representatives call for creation of federal grant program for 911 dispatchers

The bipartisan effort highlights the need to give dispatchers training, resources needed for variety of calls they answer


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By Bill Carey

WASHINGTON — Rep. Norma J. Torres, D-CA, a former 911 dispatcher, led a bipartisan letter with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-PA; and Congressional NextGen 911 Caucus Co-Chairs Anna Eshoo, D-CA; and Richard Hudson, R-NC; calling on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to submit a plan establishing a 911 Training Grants program. 

Their letter pointed to the need for additional funding to help dispatchers receive the proper resources to respond to current challenges, such as mass shootings, hostage situations and opioid overdoses.

“We believe it is vital to assist 911 operators as they respond to an estimated 240 million calls annually to provide lifesaving emergency services ... 911 professionals are a critical part of the emergency response effort and are asked to deal with a large variety of emergencies and technologies,” the lawmakers wrote.

Congresswoman Torres used her position on the House Appropriations Committee to secure aid for 911 dispatchers in last year’s government funding bill. This included directing NTIA to develop a plan for the competitive grant program.

Congresswoman Torres has also introduced the bipartisan 911 Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services (SAVES) Act to reclassify 911 dispatchers as first responders.